My Miss USA 2017 Review: Notes on the Production

This year was not a particularly spectacular show. And for the first time in several years, I was left feeling that something was missing in the telecast.

RUSHED. That is how I would describe this year’s competition. It’s the same feeling as if you have a taxi waiting for you and you have to get through a three-hour program as fast as you could or pay the surcharges. In the exception of Michael Jackson One’s opening performance everything else felt too fast paced and it started right during the opening when the girls were shooed unto the stage.


Yep, no intro of the girls this year and they look like sheep being lead to pasture onstage. I wish they put back the contestant introductions next time. The swimsuit competition was so fast that the camera work was a bit off…like the cameraman didn’t know who/where to focus on. And poor girls, they seem to have been cut down from a 12 second exposure to a 3-5 second pasarela. I wonder, how were the judges able to score them properly in that short window frame.
Same goes during the evening gown where Brett Eldredge seems to only have a just a couple of minutes onstage. And this vein continues even during the final look of the top three girls where they each have a collective exposure of like 16 seconds? And was it just me or did anyone else felt a misfit with Pittbull for the final look? I thought he would be a better fit for the swimsuit segment as his songs have energy to keep the crowd going during that segment.

So here is what I’d like to suggest:
1. Bring back the candidate introductions where they say their names, age and profession, hometown & state. The rest of the girls that didn’t make top 10 looked like set decorations with such a rushed treatment on their tv exposure.
2. Have a theme for the opening in terms of color/material/embellishment so that the girls would look great on-stage. Having different swimsuits is okay as every girl has a different body type but for the opening number, it would look good to have a theme.
3. Reduce the videos being played and do an actual proper interview for the semifinalists. The one question being asked during the announcement of the semifinalists is too short and shallow to really get to know the girls better.
4. Instead of a top 10 do a top 12 semifinalists. It felt like the pageant cut down the semis to only 10 girls because they wanted to save airtime and filled it instead with pre-taped videos (which for pageant fans, it’s been viewed several times already).
5. Give ample time for the music performances to really be enjoyed by the audiences like the pageant used to. Gold standard is still the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, though it did go overboard with the allotted airtime.
6. We really need to see more of the girls competing with their SS & EG performances or we can see the risk of having the pageant looking like it already had a predetermined winner. That is the art of showmanship. Pageant fans want to see the girls in their pasarela to see who really trained hard and performed well.

Overall it was a 6 out of a possible perfect 10 for this year’s production. There is much to be desired from the pacing that the pageant went in the snap of the fingers without anything memorable that sticks to our minds about the girls’ performances except for the interviews.  I just hope that the rushed feeling of the pageant wouldn’t translate to the Miss Universe pageant this year.

 

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My Miss USA 2017 Review: The Winners

My gut-feel that a black-to-black win is a high possibility this year and I was right. Though I predicted South Carolina’s Megan Gordon to win, I am absolutely ecstatic with Kara McCullough as the new Miss USA!

I always thought that the Miss USA pageant is very unpredictable and I always had difficulty getting the winner right. But this time around I got 6 of the 10 semi-finalists which is the highest number I had in years! If we factor in the girls in my spoilers list, that’s a whopping 8 out of the 10! With that being said, I was pleasantly surprised that they have a very diverse set of semifinalists this year. Five African-American girls (who dominated the semis) made it alongside an Indian, a redhead, a couple of blondes, and a native American Indian (Alaska) comprising the top 10. Not to mention that they have diverse professions as well, from being a lawyer, a scientist, several dancers, a sportscaster, and a number of students.

I have to say that the Miss USA girls this year have improved tremendously in terms of their walks. Collectively as a group, Class of 2017 have much better pasarelas compared to previous batches (yes, I’m talking about you batch 2015, lols). Notable in the swimsuit segment are Minnesota and Illinois for wearing swimsuit with sleeves/ jacket. But my favorite in this segment is Meridith Gould of Minnesota who looked stunning in her swimsuit. Personally, the EG was dominated by District of Columbia’s Kara McCullough who looked like she was breezing through the stage. Her choice of gown was a fashion win for it looked flowy and effortless on stage. Though I’d also give high points to Chhavi Verg of New Jersey and New York’s Hannah Lopa for their EG presentations.

4 out of the 5 finalists are women of color! And I am loving it. This reflects what the org is aiming for and I knew that instance that they are looking for a woman of diversity to be Miss USA. Then came the Q&A which separated the crown worthy girls from the rest. Illinois’ Whitney Wandland was a bit lost in her answer and I didn’t know the point that she was driving to. For Megan Gordon of South Carolina, I thought gave a great answer though the delivery seemed to be unsure towards the end. She actually started strong and flustered a bit at the end. The Q&A were dominated by Meridith, Kara and Chhavi, IMHO. Minnesota, DC and New Jersey delivered their answers with conviction and clarity. It was no wonder they were named top 3.

After the top 3 girls hurdled the final Q&A, I thought Kara got it in the bag and that Meridith would be her 1st runner up. So when Minnesota was named 3rd placer, I knew the black-to-black win for District of Columbia is happening. And it did! As a final thought, the takeaway from this year’s pageant is one simple thing: Be of substance and a strong resume to bring along into the pageant world. Substance over surface…

My Miss USA 2017 Review: The Non-Inclusions

At the back of my head I had that nagging thought that the facially strong girls would be left frozen at the back with the changes being seen in the MUOrg and that indeed materialized with several fan favorites missing the semis.

Despite being my favorites, I had a feeling that North Carolina’s Katie Coble and Pennsylvania’s Cassandra Angst might miss the cut if Miss USA is just gunning for a top 10. And I was right as they were the first casualties of the first cut. Katie had the face of a Victoria’s Secret angel and she resembles Rosie Huntington quite a bit mixed with a little dash of Helena Christensen. I believe that she probably made the cut if there were 12 or 15 girls in the semis this year. Pennsylvania’s Cassandra, for me at least, is the most stunning girl facial-wise in this year’s batch. I had a feeling that the behind the scenes might have done something for her not to have made the cut or perhaps her weak pasarela. Nevertheless, these two girls would have made a difference in the competition had they entered the semi-finalists.
Nevada’s Lauren York was also a missed the first cut, but hers was not a surprise for this blogger. For some weird reason, I really never saw her as a major contender for the title compared to the likes of Megan Gordon, India Williams, Meridith Gould or even Allee-Sutton Hethcoat. Perhaps it was because I found her resume not as strong as the other girls I mentioned. I thought that there were stronger girls than her in the competition which was the reflected during the finals. The biggest shocker for me was the non-inclusion of Utah’s Baylee Jensen who was a Communications Major with a dual Minor in Sociology and Criminology. Not to mention that her mom Gretchen Polhemus was a former Miss USA herself. I thought Baylee had something to add to the table specially with her background as a dancer, athlete and most importantly her background in criminology.

“Substance over Surface” that seemed to have been the order of business to make it into the semis. That was perhaps the reason why these lovely ladies missed the top 10…

The Binibining Pilipinas 2017 Review Pt1

This year my pageant review has a little bit more “spice” to it than usual as I feel the need to be truthful and honest to my opinions, though I will try to put them as nicely as I could. I hope no feelings are gonna get hurt because this is going to be a whole lotta eyeful to read…

The Top 25 Semi-finalists – 12 from KF, 12 from A&Q and 1 independent candidates comprise the top 25. The shocker of the year is the non-inclusion of Liezel Ramos, Angelique de Leon and Dindi Pajares. While we couldn’t really pinpoint what went wrong, we can all guess that the closed-door interview might be the culprit or perhaps they weren’t what the org is looking for this year. It is said that the questions during the closed-door interview were very difficult with topics ranging from current events, religion to politics. I am really impressed with the inclusions of Dane Felise Marasigan, Ana Patricia Asturias and Nelda Ibe on the semis. I also see that the top 25 comprised of women from different backgrounds.

The Outfits – This year, I am very much impressed in how far along we have gone in terms of the wardrobe for the local pageant. It was only 3 short years ago that fans are complaining about the lack of Filipino talents in the wardrobe of the pageant. Opening dresses were made by Bing Cristobal. This year we have Domz Ramos and Jeffrey Rogador doing the swimsuits for the pageant (Domz created the ones for the parade and Jeffrey for the finals). I only wished that the Jeffrey Rogador swimsuits used during the press presentation was switched for the finals instead. I believe that the dark colored swimsuit wasn’t a good match for the finals and the neon colored ones would have made a better impact onstage.

Shoes were made by Jojo Bragais as it was for the past couple of years. I just hoped that the powers at be decided to make the girls wear same colored shoes as their opening outfits as the gold was too high a contrast on the green and purple outfits. Let’s not mention the evening gowns who are all made by Filipino designers.

The Swimsuit – this portion is definitely nailed by Rachel ‘the Killer Bod’ Peters. Her performance in this round was almost perfect. Though I would give this round to Ruffa Nava with what was an effortless glide onstage.
The Evening Gown – while I have nothing against Mariel winning this award, I thought the evening gown performance of Charmaine Elima then followed by Sirene Sutton were superior to hers. Mariel still has to polish her walk.
Before I go unto the next segment, I really wished to have seen Ruffa Nava making top 15. It would have been interesting to see and hear her speak in the top 15.

The Top 15 Q&A – this is where the best girls emerged. Kristel Guelos did quite well here and I thought I would have switched her with Elizabeth Clenci in terms of placement. Elizabeth was conversational in her Q&A but delivered it with just enough confidence. Charmaine rambled initially but was able to pull off a strong finish to her question about cursing. Had she edited her answer to only say the last portion, she could have nailed a crown. Nelda Ibe flubbed her answer and she could have done better, perhaps flustered nerves were the culprit. I would have replaced her with Christagale Borja instead. Christa’s answer to the ‘best day’ question merited a much higher placement in my opinion. Nevertheless I am happy for Nelda’s title. Gabriela Ortega gave a strong answer as it was quite relatable, although her thick Spanish accent made her sound unsure in her delivery. Katarina Rodriguez was given a ‘standard pageant question’ to which she responded well, had she been given a tougher question like that of Rachel Peters then I think she could have gotten a higher title. Rachel had a difficult question as its nature is about current political events. She nailed her question saying divisiveness in religion, politics and culture is something that she would like to address to the ASEAN leaders. Juliana Kapeundl was a revelation that night and I thought she would possibly end up as a runner up. However her lack of conviction while she was speaking was probably the main culprit of her not making top 8. Mariel was also given a ‘standard pageant question’ though I give props to her for injecting a little bit of humor to her response.

Watch out for the 2nd part of the Binibining Pilipinas pageant review coming soon…

Alpha Pageant Ranking for 2016

Earlier in January, I have published the 12 countries who had the most number of wins in four of the biggest pageants in the planet: Miss Universe, Miss Earth, Miss International and Miss World. With France winning the Miss Universe title, it jumped from 21st place to #15… 
Here below are the current ranking:
15. France – 4 titles and 14 runners up
14. Finland  – 4 titles and 28 runners up
13. Argentina – 5 titles and 7 runners up
12. Germany – 5 titles and 14 runners up
11. Spain – 5 titles and 17 runners up
10. Colombia – 5 titles and 24 runners up. Had Michelle Gomez won Miss Earth or Andrea Tovar in Miss Universe, Colombia would have ranked 9th overall.

9. Sweden – 6 titles and 14 runners up
8. Brazil – 6 titles and 37 runners up
7. United Kingdom – 7 titles and 20 runners up
6. Australia – 7 wins and 24 runners up. 
5. India – 8 titles and 15 runners up
4. Puerto Rico – 9 titles and 11 runners up

3. Philippines – 13 titles and 21 runners up
2. USA – 14 titles and 59 runners up
1. Venezuela – 22 titles and 41 runners up. Despite not placing in three of the international pageants this year and just a runner up placement courtesy of Stephanie de Zorzi, they are still far ahead in the ranking.

Miss Universe 2016: The Good, The Bad & The Fabulous

The 65th Miss Universe pageant has come and gone yet I haven’t blogged about a review of the said pageant. Overall it was a major success, but it was not without some points that could have been better.

86 women around the world came to the Philippines to compete for the Miss Universe title but it was only during the final three days of the competition that I felt that an underdog will win the title. True enough the top three girls were all considered darkhorses for the title and were surprise winners in the competition…a pleasant surprise at that.

The Good
Finally, a Miss Universe opening that feels like a true opening number. No more prerecorded videos of the introduction of the ladies! And I have to say that FloRida brought the house on its feet with the energy in the opening. His medley of hits is a club staple which brought life into the MU party! This is what an opening should and must feel like.
The Boyz2Men performance is also a high point in the finals. I had the opportunity to watch the final dress rehearsals and saw them perform. It was a treat to have watched them twice! But I have to tell you that their performance during the dress rehearsals was a much better one because their singing wasn’t drowned out by the cheers. If you could had heard their voices in a much quieter opportunity, then you would be much more impressed.

I have to say, the Filipino pageant fans was a tremendous boost to the pageant. The cheering from the audience were enough that you can hear it during the telecast. Every time Maxine Medina was onstage, the thunderous applause reverberates in the entire MOA Arena.The roar of the viewers never subsided, and more than that every Filipino pageant fan is cheering for other candidates as well (although I can feel that their support for Miss Colombia was not that much). When Miss Philippines  failed to advance to the top 3, the Filipino crowd started cheering mostly for Haiti followed by France.

The Bad
The pageant in the Philippines lacked local flavor for the final production and stage design. It wasn’t necessarily bad, like a terrible production, no that wasn’t the case but it could have been better if there is something that reflected the host country in it.
In fact, the pageant felt like a copycat of the stage design and production of Las Vegas. It was as if someone became uninspired to come up with something fresh and new. The Philippines has so much culture to offer and yet that was not reflected in the stage. Not that I am saying that the stage wasn’t any good, it was nicely done IMHO, it just lacked the local flavor seen in stages of past MU editions in Vietnam, Thailand and even Russia. The Moscow edition still is the platinum standard for that.

The MU finals could also have been added with a local flavor thru music (since there were no musical performances during the SS and EG segments). A drumline of Ati-atihan performers could have added the much-needed local flavor at the SS rounds, or a local DJ for the EG segment. Those are the low points in an otherwise impeccable production.

The Fabulous
I am much thrilled with the body diversity in the pageant! I have to do a shout-out to Miss Canada Siera Bearchell (who I was fortunate to have interviewed in the blog) who represented the more curvy woman on the MU stage. Way to go girl! Andrea Tovar of Colombia’s JLo-esque body represented bottom heavy girls in the competition. Then we have the tall skinny/ lanky body type thru Kenya’s Mary Esther Were.

But more than that, I have to say that the 13 semifinalists are a major source of fabulosity (if there is even such a word). I am glad that 3 dark-skinned women (USA, Kenya & Brazil), three Asians (Philippines, Thailand & Indonesia) and two mulattas (Haiti & Colombia) have made it through the 1st cut. Women of color have dominated the pageant for the first time in a decade or so! If you haven’t noticed, every continent is represented in the top 6.

Raquel Pelissier as 1st runner up and Iris Mittenaere as Miss Universe. To have her win the Miss Universe title is nothing short of spectacular. But so much more for Haiti’s Raquel Pelissier finishing as second. We finally see that underdogs have a fighting chance into the competition and that working hard and a grateful attitude can propel you to the top.

Overall, the Miss Universe was a huge success that the MUOrg wanted the 2017 or 2018 edition to come back to the Philippines…and all of that is thanks to the Filipino pageant fans, who truly is the best pageant fans in the world, rather the Universe.

2016 Alpha Pageant Ranking

The way I rank the Alpha pageant ranking is similar to the Olympic system, it is based on the number of crowns and runners up. It is simple and not confusing, what you see is what you get. There are 4 Alpha titles, each crown is treated equally in importance. I don’t like having the point system because that system is easy to manipulate, assigning bigger points to other pageants can lead to a faulty ranking. Crowns and runner up placements, you can’t lie with that.

So here below are the top 12 countries with the most Alpha pageant wins!
12. Germany – 5 titles and 14 runners up
11. Spain – 5 titles and 17 runners up
10. Colombia – 5 titles and 23 runners up. Had Michelle Gomez won Miss Earth instead of Ecuador this year, Colombia would have ranked 9th overall.
9. Sweden – 6 titles and 14 runners up
8. Brazil – 6 titles and 37 runners up. With Brazilian Bruna Zanardo placing again in the top 4 of the Miss Earth pageant, Brazil is consistently performing in the Alpha Pageant ranking.
7. United Kingdom – 7 titles and 20 runners up
6. Australia – 7 wins and 24 runners up. Alexandra Britton’s 1st runner up placement in Miss International is proof enough that the country from Down Under is to watch out for.

5. India – 8 titles and 15 runners up. This powerhouse country slid down one place this year.
4. Puerto Rico – 9 titles and 11 runners up. Advancing into the 4th place is this island country with Stephanie del Valle’s win in Miss World. It took them a little over 40 years before it won its second MW.
3. Philippines – 13 titles and 21 runners up. Inching closer to the 2nd place is the Philippines with Kylie Verzosa’s win as Miss International. Interestingly enough, 6 of the Alpha pageant titles were won in a span of only 4 years (from 2013 to 2016).
2. USA – 14 titles and 59 runners up. They scored another runner up placement this year in Miss International and they are expected to do well in the delayed Miss Universe later in January. 
1. Venezuela – 22 titles and 41 runners up. If this was an Olympic sporting event, Venezuela would take the cake hands down. Despite no titles and just a runner up placement (courtesy of Stephanie de Zorzi) in 2016, they are still far ahead in the ranking.

Despite the highs and lows of the past year, the top 3 countries remain strong in their grip on their respective rank. Will 2017 bring a shakeup? That is possible, but we will just have to see how the 2017 pageant season unfolds…